I need to buy (NNN) cross-country ski boots for classic-style skiing, mostly day tours in the back country. My local ski shop sells them for $200 (for
). Those are their only two options. Ebay often seems to have boots for about $50 (with $50 extra for postage to Australia). If I know my size in one brand (from hiring boots in the past), how transferable is it to another boot in the same brand, or to another brand I haven't tried? Is it madness to buy ski boots without trying them? Alternatively, I am likely to be in Minneapolis in January. Should I wait and look for boots there? Are they heaps cheaper in the USA?
Up until now I have hired Alpina boots in this style
from a gear co-op I belong to. I am mostly happy with them, except that size 41 rubs on my toes (slightly too big) and size 39 digs into my right heel and takes the skin off by the end of the day (slightly too small?) I am hoping that means size 40 is exactly right, but my gear coop does not have a pair in size 40. They also get very wet inside, but I can suck that up and use gaiters more often.
I think the gear coop's boots are unisex (or all men's?), and I see on ebay that Alpina seems to have women's boots too. (I am a woman). Will the fit be very different? What about the sizing?
No one on ebay is currently selling this style of Alpina boots in size 40, but I am happy to wait and lurk until next season. Yesterday was probably my last ski trip for this season.
If I buy in the USA, presumably I'll have the same issue with returns as I would off ebay - ie. postage is about $50. Unfortunately I've found I can't really tell whether boots are comfortable and really fit well until I actually go skiing in them.
All this said, what would you suggest I do? Buy one of the local options while the end of season sales are on? Wait until January? Lurk on ebay and buy a pair like the ones I've been hiring? Lurk on ebay and buy something else? Specific brands and style recommendations would be great if you think I should buy something else. I care mostly about comfort. They do not need to be very warm. Skiing conditions here are generally above 0 C. I would prefer to pay $200 or less, but could stretch higher if there's good reason to.